Here’s a little blog about transiting in Jakarta on your way to visit NAD. Simon flew from Manchester in the UK to Jakarta on Etihad via Abu Dhabi. He bought his tickets about a month in advance and at the time the Etihad flight was the best value by a few hundred dollars. Here’s what he had to say:
Emirates would have given me a lesser amount of time in Jakarta, and with hindsight might have been the more sensible option as it is a more pleasant airport than Abu Dhabi. If you’re unsure which route to take, check with Zee first. I live with her and didn’t check first and ended up on a less efficient route!
Checking into a flight these days requires that you answer questions relating to C-19 vaccines and show proof where necessary, I was asked about vaccines and showed the papers for that. I was not asked to show the Peduli Lindungi App, or any form of C-19 insurance during the whole journey.
Etihad Flight Schedule
The flight times as per the ticket were the following:
|Manchester – Abu Dhabi
|Abu-Dhabi – Jakarta
|Jakarta – Manado
As you can see, this wasn’t a good ticket set to buy with more transit time than flight time, I should have asked Zee when booking! Plus when you consider the cost of food and drink in Abu Dhabi, and that there’s very few available seats to relax on outside of the bar, it might well have been cheaper to pick a different option. The business class lounge looks great though.
Abu Dhabi does have good free internet. Masks were mandatory according to the check in counter, however it wasn’t not enforced on the plane or wandering around Abu Dhabi. Everyone wore them at the X-ray counter and check-in.
Arriving in Jakarta
Upon arriving in Jakarta, you ideally want to be at the front of the queue, so go to the toilet before you land and book a seat near the front. You will be given a paper customs form, fill it out even if you’ve done the electronic one (more on that later).
Once you disembark the plane, you’ll need to have your mask on according to the staff at the door, but almost everyone wears them below the nose when walking around, pulling them up again as they approach a counter. There are a few infra red cameras pointing at the people as they wander past, although they didn’t look to be manned by anyone.
You will see many QR codes for the Peduli Lindungi App as you move down the main concourse, however I wouldn’t waste your time on them as everyone I asked said it doesn’t work for foreigners (they actually mean for foreign vaccinations), other passengers I spoke to had uploaded their vaccine certificates a month ago and it still hadn’t been verified, so don’t worry about this. Just have your paper copy ready.
The first desk you come to is to check your vaccine certificate, at this desk you will hand them your vaccine papers, passport, and boarding pass from the flight you just disembarked. They check the papers and stamp the boarding pass. Once you’re through this first step you don’t need to show your vaccine papers until you check in to the next flight. This step is the bottle-neck so you want to be at the front. (~3mins per person to process). There is an airport Wifi Network, it doesn’t need a password and is quite fast. I was not asked to show C-19 insurance.
Next counter is the Visa on Arrival Desk (VOA) where you pay $35USD / 500,000IDR, they will put a sticker in your passport then you go to the next counter where the officer will check the receipt you were just given, and ask when your departure date is whilst applying stickers from the previous desk. Finally you go to the immigration counter where you’ll have to show your full face and then get the stamp to be allowed into the country. Everyone was very friendly. (~total time for VOA was around 5minutes).
Baggage claim was a bit of an ordeal, I was using Apple AirTags for the bags so I knew they were underneath me, but they still took an hour to come out. Once you have the bags you head to customs where there will be lots of people trying to use the QR code for the E-customs declaration. Don’t bother with this, just wander past them and present your paper copy to the officer and head through to Xray. You will also see signs to register your cellphone IMEI – this is not necessary for tourists on a short stay.
You’re now in Indonesia so can put all the papers away. Assuming you’re in terminal 3 you can head outside and buy a local SIM card if you are interested (probably not a bad idea). Telkomsel is the oldest, strongest network. 3 has some good value deals. Get Telkomsel.
Transiting in Jakarta
This part of the journey could be more stressful than Abu Dhabi, but for the price of a burger and a few beers in AbuDhabi you can get a hotel room at the airport. All the hotels at CGK T3 (Anara looks nice) were fully booked when I checked the day before I arrived, so I ended up booking the old airport hotel at T2.
The Skytrain is now working, so when you’ve got your bags head outside and take the elevator up to the top floor, where you can get on the skytrain. it takes about 5mins to get from T3 to T2, and you can’t take your trolley on the train. At T2 head to the middle floor and ask a few staff for hotel and they’ll point you to it.
Jakarta Airport Hotel
Once at the hotel you can wait by the bag scanner and a porter will come help you with your bags whilst you go check in (Rp1,125,000 per night) – I booked on booking.com when I was in AbuDhabi. The room was good for a few hours, however had I known things were more relaxed about facemasks around the airport I might not have bothered with this. After a nap I headed down to Solaria on the ground floor and got a takeaway Nasi-Goreng to eat in my room. The hotel provide a free shuttle service back to T3, so tell them what time when you check in and they will give you a wake up call too.
Vaccine Checks and the Peduli Lindungi App
At domestic check-in I had to show my vaccine certificate – and I asked if there was anything unique about my certificate leading into if I could just print another one or show on the phone for subsequent flights, he agreed this would not be a problem.
He also confirmed that the Peduli Lindungi App does not currently work for foreigners, everything is done manually. We get a lot of emails about this, please don’t stress about it, just bring a paper copy of your vaccine cert.
It would appear that the providence of your Vaccine Cert is only checked at the port of entry, the rest of the time it is not scrutinised – they just check the name and number of doses. He did point out that foreigners don’t need as many doses as locals, and added that everyone was tired of all the rules and wanted to get back to normal.
Around the terminal there was a general nonchalance to masks, everyone keeping them ready to put back on in case they got in trouble. I pulled mine back on to go though security, the rest of the time I had a mask-exemption coffee in my hand. The airport was dead quiet, Abu Dhabi and Manchester were crazy busy so if I was concerned about C-19 the Indonesian leg would have been the least of my worries.
I should note that every single Indonesian Official that I spoke with was really friendly and nice, even the lady in the X-ray counter who thought I had bullets in my bag, fortunately they were just electrical connectors!
Garuda to Manado
I took the new schedule 2.45am flight from CGK to MDC on Garuda, Checking in at 12:30. Plenty of time and no queues anywhere, which is one of the few pros to flying at this unsociable hour. The airport is mostly closed at this time; Starbucks was open, as were a few shops in the departure area. It’s now too late to buy a simcard, should have bought one easier (I didn’t and it’s still annoying me a day later). If you want one in Manado you have to go to the Office in town and waste a day, so if you think you might want one, get one when you land in Jakarta.
Boarding the plane masks were mandatory, and the first 5 minutes of announcements on the plane were about what to do with your tissues if you sneeze and not touch things etc etc. It was like being back in 2020 all over again. After take off food was immediately served (chicken rice or fish rice were the choices), served with an Ice Tea and a relatively big bottle of water, then shortly before landing we were served a strawberry jam bread roll and more bottles of water to take with you.
After meals everyone forgot put their masks on, until I sneezed then everyone nearby panicked and put the masks back on! We did a few laps of Manado before landing and were treated to spectacular sunrise views of the volcanoes on the way in.
The refit of Manado airport seems to be finished, toilets are in the baggage hall and there were plenty of trolleys. Free wifi worked well in the baggage hall, bags quickly appeared and soon enough I was with the driver. He escorted me over the road where I waited with the trolley whilst he went to get the car from the car park.
Drive to Bitung
The new toll road is now operational, and as long as the driver maintains a legal speed it is no faster than the old way of getting to us. It is however much more comfortable, and that in itself makes it worthwhile. Whenever in a car in Indonesia, always check your seatbelt is functional and use it. If you don’t and the worst happens your insurance might not pay out. Our drivers should not smoke or use the phone whilst bringing you to NAD, and will be wearing a mask, if anything makes you uncomfortable please take a picture of the driver and report it to the staff when you arrive.
1hr later I am stood at the dock in Tanduk Rusa watching the locals handline some small jacks whilst the bags are loaded on to the boat. 5mins to go and I’ll finally be back at NAD. Arrived at 9am local time.
One thing to note with this early arrival time is that your room might not be immediately available. Please have something to eat and maybe set up in the camera room whilst the staff get things ready. Once you’re on the wifi, put your phone into low data mode and you’ll not jam the wifi up with iCloud backups and uploading pictures.